Observing toddlers with empathy

This workshop  acknowledges the vast amount of learning a young child is undertaking every second of the day. At no other time are we learning as much as in those first three years. I draw on research by Alison Gopnik, a leading researcher in the field of neuroscience and author of “The Philosophical Baby”

and “The Scientist in the Crib”.

Click here to read the learning story which I wrote in an attempt to convey the enormous impact and demands that a child must experience when encountering an entire new world without his familiar landmarks or “significant others”. I titled the story “Welcome to the Kina Room aka Kurdistan”.

In the workshop/presentation I use a wide range of images to support participants to clarify what their ‘image of the child’ is and to encourage teachers to appreciate the way our image impacts on our practice, and the way we relate to these vital young human beings.

It is a fascinating age group to work with as there is only a sprinkling of language and everything else we have to guess, intuit, project, and imagine. In such a context, close observation coupled  with a warm empathy is paramount if the children are not to feel intense frustration at our failure to understand their communications, and possibly give up on much of  their impulsive  self-expression. These are critical years for language acquisition as well which is why a large focus of  our work as teachers should in fact be communicating, interacting verbally, interpreting, asking,mirroring and empathising as much as possible.  As Ruth Beaglehole says, “Children are the world’s largest silent majority”.